Tools of the trade

I just joined NACHI about 3 weeks ago and I’m just finding the time to ask this one question, what tools do most of you take to an inspection? I didn’t want to take to many or not have enough, so I was hoping to get some advice. I’m a retired General Building Contractor from Illinois and California, so having tools is not an issue; it’s having to many that worry me… Thanks, WB Woods


What I did when I started is review the SOP and determine what tools I would need to feel confident in completing the SOP requirements.

You can also check out this thread.

An excellent question. Is it far too easy to get dazzled by all the fine and fancy tools available to Home Inspectors and you end up with a truck full of items you may only use one or two times a year, sometimes less. I say stick to the basics in the beginning. Go first with the obvious needs; a really good set of ladders. Don’t go cheap here but no need to buy the big name just because everyone else does. A multiple purpose one works best as you will often find unique situations where you will want a specialty ladder. I have an articulating ladder and an Extend-n-Climb. Much discussion on the telescoping ladders. Some very pro, while others who have had an accident with one are very much against them. Do not buy a knock off if you buy one and get the most sturdy one they make for a few extra bucks. Biggest thing on these is routine and proper care and maintenance and follow the set up instructions to the letter.

A couple of really good lights, long life and bright. No need to spend hundreds of dollars to get a good light. Bright LED bulbs give the longest periods between recharging or changing batteries. Real important if you are in the back of a crawl space and the light goes out or dims. I always carry a back up mini light. I also keep a rechargable spotlight in the truck.

Basic hand tools; I like the 10 in 1 screwdriver ($10 at Lowe’s) a voltage ticker, a really good receptacle tester, preferably one that checks both GFCI and AFCI receptacles. I also have a couple of B&D electric screwdrivers with an assortment of nut drivers and tips. Saves a bunch of time when removing panels on HVAC or Breaker panels. (make sure you have a square tip driver).

A good, but inexpensive, sturdy digital camera. I prefer Pentax because of their telephoto capabilities being internal and no exposed moving parts and the waterproof models. You can simply rinse them off if they get nasty in a crawl space. Everyone has their favorites and always generates a lot of discussion on the merits of each brand and model. I also carry a stack of microfiber towels in my truck. Good for clean ups and if I need to dry something off (like my camera or hands)

I used to have a lot of electronic testers but rarely carry these anymore. I use a clamp on ampmeter/multimeter and a reliable yet inexpensive moisture meter. Carry two cause one often goes T.U. I have a gas detector (TIFF 8800A) but never use it anymore. My nose is the best detector and if I smell gas my job is done regarding further evaluation. I refer it to the professionals licensed in those disciplines. It isn’t my job to troubleshoot. If I am wrong it becomes my baby. I do have a personal alarm for Carbon Monoxide for my own safety, not to test the IAQ. Again, I leave the troubleshooting to others.

I use tape measures, levels (not electronic ones, a four foot and I actually use a golf ball for sloping floors), binoculars, inspection mirrors and a measuring wheel (only occasionally).

If you get into specialty inspections, you will need to buy good tools and testers made for those but otherwise the basics will get you started and from there you can decide which ones you will need to buy to do the job faster, more accurately but keeping inside the SOP. I have very few trinket tools like microwave testers, compass.

95% of our Inspections use just the following:

Little Giant 17’ ladder
Digital Camera
GFCI Tester
2 Good Flashlights (Mag or Stream Lights)
Good Binoculars
6-in-1 Screwdriver / Nutdriver
Electric Screwdriver
Volt / Ohms Tester
Inspection Mirror
Moisture Meter
Golf Ball

Anything else I use is sporadic

Yes :wink:

I carry:
21’ Gorilla ladder (how apropos…)
9-way screwdriver
Waterproof digital camera
Streamlight polystinger LED, and a smaller LED light that shares batteries with my camera, and also clips to the bill of my hat to leave my hands free.
GFCI tester, although lately I’ve been thinking of buying a circuit analyzer. The little tester is too easy to fool if a unscrupulous contractor sets his mind to it.
Leatherman Wave multi-tool
Glock 9mm pistol, or sometimes a Kel Tec P3AT .380, or both, depending on the neighborhood.

I also have a digital multimeter, mirrors, a bunch of hand tools, battery chargers for the electronics, a tablet laptop, a meter key, cordless screwdriver, lock picks, and probably some more stuff that I’ve forgotten, but most of that is for other things that I do besides inspections.

This is an honest question - not trying to start a big fight, or drift the thread or anything, because I truthfully couldn’t care less whether or not you do this, but I never could understand why you guys carry a ball to show that a floor slopes. Can’t the buyer feel that the floor slopes, just like you do, when they walk on it?
Also, if you’re rolling a ball across the floor of a 90 yr old house, you’re just being silly, of course it slopes…:mrgreen:

I don’t use it often (have a laser if needed) but you can detect voids under concrete slabs with a golf ball.

Rarely use as well. Very low tech (I found it in my yard so it cost me nothing) but if the floor is Iffy and you just are not sure. The golf ball is easy to carry, the buyer remembers the act of doing it and I don’t have to go back to the truck for a level. They may not even remember me using a level but the ball makes an indelible impression. I have a laser level as well but I just quit carrying it around. We have many, many homes here well over 80-90 years old and some have absolutely perfect floors. Only the junkers have the sloped shoulders and then you are right; you don’t need a ball or a level but a rope to get back up to the high side.

Chalk that up to you having different dirt than us I guess.

I went into a house a couple years ago where the bed was sitting on 3 legs, and the other leg was on 2 phone books. Didn’t need a ball for that place!

Good enough - like I said - knock yourselves out, I was just curious. :slight_smile:

lol…I thought I was the only “packin” HI… :slight_smile: